Shel Holtz is ranting about Spectorsoft and Websense on is blog (here) – rightfully so! If you do not know what they do, those companies make “big brother” type products that monitor employee emails, web surfing activities, as well as their chats/IM. Their products also capture every keystroke and programs launched. Yikes – I sure would never want to work in a company that deployed those apps! And I suspect that few people would.
Shel goes on – on the topic of whether those anti-privacy tool companies are evil he says:
“Well, yeah. They’re profiting by creating unfounded fear and introducing products into the workplace that will suck the company dry of employee commitment..”
I could not agree more. I would go a step further and say that the companies that are deploying those tools are evil too…(ok maybe too harsh – definitely clueless). What kind of culture are you creating by deploying tools like that? I am sure there are abusers everywhere, but by and large, I would argue that letting people do personal stuff online while at work probably ends up having a positive impact on productivity. By letting people do some of their shopping or some of their banking at work, not only will you reduce their stress level about getting personal things done, you will also free up their time to think more about your company’s problems. And if they surf seemingly random sites – guess what? You may actually increase the rate of innovation within your company. The web, just like conversations, is a great source of ideas. Monitoring employees with those software tools will clearly kill both their commitment to the company (as Shel argues) and the company’s ability to innovate!
Shel concludes his rant with
:”The question is, how do we get this message into the heads of executives who are bombarded with the kind of pathetic, fear-mongering crap that companies like SpectorSoft and Websense shove down their throats? I certainly don’t have their advertising budgets. I’m open to ideas.”
…maybe we can start a wiki listing the companies that deploy those solutions. This is one case where a reference list of customers can work against you rather than for you!